By Amy Guckeen Tolson, Staff Writer Redstone RocketSeptember 7, 2011
REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala.--When there are no words left to be said, music will fill the Tennessee Valley to honor those that lost their lives on Sept. 11, and those that remain to mourn them.
Nearly 300 musicians will lift up their voices and instruments in song Sunday to present "9.11.01: A Memorial Concert" at First Baptist Church, Huntsville, 600 Governors Drive, beginning at 5 p.m., preludes shortly after 4:30 p.m. The Huntsville Community Chorus will join forces with the First Baptist Church Sanctuary Choir and Orchestra to present a memorial concert that will mourn the lives of those that lost their lives on Sept. 11, 2001, honor the heroic efforts of those that responded to the tragedy, and celebrate America. The concert is free and open to the public. A freewill offering will be taken for Manna House and the Huntsville Assistance Program, which benefit the needy in the community.
"It's such a unique day in the life of our country," said Billy Orton, artistic director for the Huntsville Community Chorus and minister of music and worship at First Baptist, Huntsville. "You've got heart, emotion and memory all coming together. When you merge things like that, it can be very moving. We're coming in on that day with music which is designed to stretch the imagination, comfort the soul and the heart, and raise minds to ask the question, 'what does this mean for us now?'"
The concert has been years in the making for Orton, who had the difficult, but "joyful" task of choosing just what music would unite the community, offer them a sense of patriotism, and help them mourn the tragedy and loss associated with the 10th anniversary of 9/11. In the end he chose songs of peace, comfort, life and liberty, such as "God Bless America," "America the Beautiful," and "I Shall Not Die Without a Hope," from "The Testament of Freedom," which the First Baptist Sanctuary Choir and Orchestra presented in a memorial concert on Oct. 11, 2001. Chief Warrant Officer 4 Peter Gillies, director of the Army Materiel Command Band, will direct the First Baptist Brass in Aaron Copland's famed work, "Fanfare for the Common Man."
"The music is not just music of comfort and solace and inspiration for those persons who suffered loss 10 years ago, or who were involved in heroic fashion back then," Orton said. "The music we present this time around is also for the many needs present today -- persons who have suffered recent loss, etc. We believe that the music presented at this memorial concert will touch the concert attendees where they live today, and inspire folks for tomorrow."
First responders from the surrounding community, including Huntsville Fire and Rescue, HEMSI, Huntsville Police Department, Huntsville/Madison County 911 Center and the Madison County Sheriff's Department will be recognized, in addition to civic officials. Huntsville mayor Tommy Battle will also give remarks.
As part of the 9/11 memorial, First Baptist, Huntsville will toll their carillon's lowest bell, the bourdon, which weighs 3,300 pounds and is over 4 feet wide and nearly 4 feet long, 10 times, at 7:46 a.m., 8:03 a.m., 8:37 a.m. and 9:03 a.m. to signify the moments that airplanes struck the North Tower and South Tower of the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and the plane that crashed in Pennsylvania. The tolling will be simultaneous with the tolling at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C.
A memorial concert dedicated to area first responders and military will also be held at 2 p.m. at Bob Jones High School auditorium, 650 Hughes Road, Madison. A select chorus from the Bob Jones Patriot Singers, Messiah Lutheran Church adult choir, First Baptist Church of Madison adult choir, and friends will perform Mozart's Requiem. Directed by Randall Fields, choral music director for Bob Jones High School, the event will include a solo quartet and orchestra, and readings recited by local civic leaders such as U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks and Madison mayor Paul Finley. The event is free and open to the public.